Just and Unjust Wars

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Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations
Just and Unjust Wars.jpg
AuthorMichael Walzer
CountryUnited States
SubjectJust War theory
Published1977 (Basic Books)
Media typePrint
ISBN071391162X (First Edition)
0465052711 (Fifth Edition)

Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations is a 1977 book by the philosopher Michael Walzer. Published by Basic Books, it is still in print, now as part of the Basic Books Classics Series. A second edition was published in 1992, a third edition in 2000, a fourth edition in 2006, and a fifth edition in 2015. The book resulted from Walzer's reflections on the Vietnam War.


Walzer draws on medieval Just War theory to explore the reasons that can justify war jus ad bellum and the ethical limits on the conduct of war jus in bello in an attempt to work out a modern, secular theory of just war.[1]


Just and Unjust Wars has, together with Spheres of Justice (1983) and Interpretation and Social Criticism (1987), been identified as one of Walzer's most important works by the philosopher Will Kymlicka in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005).[2] The work is considered a standard in the philosophical literature on the ethics of warfare, with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy calling Just and Unjust Wars "the major contemporary statement of just war theory."[3]


  1. ^ Fifty key thinkers in international relations, Martin Griffiths, Routledge, 1999, pp. 162-167
  2. ^ Kymlicka, Will (2005). Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 952. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
  3. ^ Orend, Brian. "War". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition). Retrieved 10 December 2015.